Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Have you driven the switchbacks up the cliff?
Have you plunged into vicoli, eyeballed
your way toward the duomo? And if
you have, did you wedge the unscratched rental
for a night only, you thought, before the drop
at the airport and the train to Rome?
And did you love the town, and did you stop
every few paces for a photo of this dome,
that tower, the old lady taking her ease
in the shade, her chin on her polished cane?
Did Signorelli’s Antichrist please
as much as the cobalt sky, lack of rain—
horrific pain in the night, EMTs, jostling,
swerving dark down the mountain—dying . . .

“What a way to go,” he whispered before they
slammed in, shouting for light, scolding them both
for the coldness of the room. On the way
down the mountain he made her take an oath
she would approve no treatment before
clearing it with his doc back in the states.

Hot. No AC (no Wi-Fi), no one with more
than a smidgen of English. Had the Fates
snipped his thread, here, just down the mountain
from that heavenly hell, just a lover’s leap
from Signorelli’s masterpiece? What dumb
seed had he sewn long ago, what crop to reap
here, punctured in paradise? His face began to burn.
Drugs dripped. What final lesson had he come here to learn?  

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